DELANO, Calif. (KGET) – Thousands of farmworkers will soon get their COVID vaccines.
“It’s important because we are outside exposing ourselves to be with COVID,” said Guadalupe Pimentel, a local farmworker.
Much of Kern County’s economy is carried on the backs of farmworkers. Now, the County is giving back to these essential workers by protecting them against COVID.
“It means everything, because I’m protecting my family,” Pimentel said.
Five groups came together to organize a mass vaccination site in Delano. Namely, The United Farm Workers, the UFW Foundation, the Cesar Chavez Foundation, the Latino COVID Task Force and the County of Kern. They plan to vaccinate thousands of farmworkers.
“Part of my work in the Cesar Chavez Foundation is to ensure that my father’s legacy continues to be relevant in today’s world,” said Paul Chavez, Cesar Chavez’s son. “And there’s nothing more relevant in today’s world than getting farmworkers vaccinated.”
The vaccination site is at the historic Forty Acres. This plot of land holds a lot of significance for farmworkers in Kern County.
“Coming here when they were making appointments, the first thing they were asking was, ‘Is it really at the Forty Acres?’ And when we said yes, all their defenses went down,” said Teresa Romero, President of United Farm Workers.
Since the 1960s, this is where farmworkers organized to fight for their labor rights. It’s also where the United Farm Workers Movement began under Cesar Chavez.
“They put themselves at risk to put food on our tables, and today we’re having a mass vaccination here, to save their lives,” Romero said. “It’s very symbolic.”
Chavez had two of his three famous fasts at forty acres, when he drank only water for a month. This was meant to send a message to farmworkers that through persistence and sacrifice, they could build a union without the use of violence.
“We think that we’re off to a good start and we hope that this is the beginning of a big continued effort,” Paul Chavez said.
There will be vaccination clinics at Forty Acres every weekend in March. On Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.